This from the LA Times by Rosa Brooks describing the outrage brought upon one Lenore Skenazy, a New York City mother who let her 9-year old son, Izzy, ride the subway “unprotected”:
Izzy survived unscathed. He wasn’t abducted by a perverted stranger or pushed under an oncoming train by a homicidal maniac. He didn’t even get lost. According to Skenazy, who wrote about it in a New York Sun column, he arrived home “ecstatic with independence.”
His mother wasn’t so lucky. Her column generated as much outrage as if she’d suggested that mothers make extra cash by hiring their kids out as child prostitutes.
Reader, if you’re much over 30, you probably remember what it used to be like for the typical American kid. Remember how there used to be this thing called “going out to play”?
For younger readers, I’ll explain this archaic concept. It worked like this: The child or children in the house — as long as they were over age 4 or so — went to the door, opened it, and … went outside. They braved the neighborhood pedophile just waiting to pounce, the rusty nails just waiting to be stepped on, the trees just waiting to be fallen out of, and they “played.”
While this may not be seem like a gender issue, specifically, I suggest that this kind of over-protective parenting hurts boys more than girls. We are raising a generation of “men” who will be scared of their own shadows. All this fear-mongering teaches young boys that they need constant supervision from some authority figure, a notion that, in manhood reveals itself in mealy-mouthed, panty-waisted, girly-men who could never be considered self-sufficient.
To illustrate the two sides of this argument watch the first few minutes of this Penn & Teller video with two MILWDs (Moms I’d Like to Watch Debate.)